Texas Tech University

Expert: Supreme Court Ruling on Same-Sex Marriage About Guaranteed Equality

George Watson

June 26, 2015

Richard Rosen has expertise in constitutional law and litigation with the federal government.

Richard Rosen

On Friday, the Supreme Court of the United States handed down a landmark decision in one of the most controversial and highly debated cases it has ever heard – same-sex marriage. The court ruled by a 5-4 vote that states cannot ban same-sex marriage, making the union legal in all 50 states.

Coming just a day after the Court upheld the Affordable Care Act, the decision comes after several lower courts overturned state bans on gay marriage only to be overruled by a federal appeals court. The Supreme Court sided with gay couples who challenged the ban, either to be able to marry, to have their out-of-state marriage legally recognized or to change birth or death certificates with their marriage status.

Richard Rosen, the Glenn D. West Endowed Professor at the Texas Tech School of Law, is available for comment on the Supreme Court's decision. He has expertise in constitutional law and litigation with the federal government.

Rick Rosen, Glenn D. West Endowed Professor of Law, (806) 834-7585 or richard.rosen@ttu.edu

Talking Points

  • There are 13 states, including Texas, that still have bans on same-sex marriage, basing their arguments on religious precedence that marriage is between one man and one woman.
  • The case before the court, Obergefell v. Hodges, determined whether states have the right to ban same-sex marriage or refuse to recognize same-sex marriages from other states where it is legal.
  • The case came down to whether same-sex marriage is protected under the 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which prohibits states from denying any person in its jurisdiction equal protection of the law.
  • Plaintiffs in the case argue they should receive equal access to the constitutional right to marriage and that same-sex marriage does not damage traditional marriages. The states, meanwhile, contend the legality of marriage is a state issue and taking that away is an infringement of liberty. Plus, they argue same-sex marriage would damage the institution of marriage.
  • Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority, joined by justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Antonin Scalia each wrote the dissents.


  • From the opinion: “The Fourteenth Amendment requires a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex and to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state.”
  • “No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority. “In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than they once were … Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization's oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.”
  • “The substance of today's decree is not of immense personal importance to me,” Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in the dissent. “But what really astounds is the hubris reflected in today's judicial putsch.”

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